Akron to Tear Down Dilapidated, Vandalism-Prone Rubber Bowl

Tabatha Wethal Headshot

The dilapidated, vandalism-prone remnants of what was the home field of the University of Akron Zips football team will be demolished. 

In Akron, Ohio, the 35,000-seat Rubber Bowl stadium, ravaged by vandals and splattered with graffiti, will soon be reduced to rubble after the Akron City Council on Monday agreed to tear down what’s left of the stadium. The council also agreed to raze the nearby Heisman Lodge, the Akron Beacon Journal reported.

The city authorized public service director Chris Ludle to seek bids and enter into contracts to remove the historic structures, noting they are “prone to vandalism and trespass, and [need] to be demolished.”

Old concession stands and unsightly structures on the south and east sides of the stadium will be razed. Work crews will fill, grade and revegetate the site, maintaining the infrastructure that holds up George Washington Boulevard, Ludle told the Beacon Journal. “When we’re all done, and it’s all demoed, it’s just going to look like a hill,” Ludle said.

Derby Downs, home of the All-American Soap Box Derby, will no longer have a derelict neighbor to the east.

The cost of to demolish the structure is estimated at $750,000, an official told the newspaper. The city has applied for a state grant that would cover 80 percent of the project. 

The money would come through the Ohio Department of Development’s Building Demolition and Site Revitalization Program and be run through the Summit County Land Bank.

“We are cautiously optimistic that we are going to get this grant from the state,” Vollman said Tuesday, as reported by the Beacon Journal. “But I think we’re at the point where, even if we don’t, we need to move forward with this in the short term as opposed to the long term.”

While city ordinance calls it “the Rubber Bowl redevelopment plan,” that’s a bit of a misnomer, he said. There are no immediate plans to develop the site.

The work will be a continuation of the demolition that began in 2018. Rubber Bowl stadium opened in 1940. 

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